George Foster Peabody

May 16, 2005  •  Post A Comment

By Lee Hall

Born in 1852 in Columbus, Ga., George Foster Peabody was a banker and philanthropist who gave generously to the University of Georgia and other institutions. The university’s desire to find a way to honor him coincided with a move by the National Association of Broadcasters to create a new award honoring excellence in radio broadcasting.

Lambdin Kay, who was general manager of WSB radio in Atlanta, suggested that the school’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications sponsor what would become the George Foster Peabody Awards. The first awards were given in 1941, honoring radio broadcasts of 1940. The first broadcast television awards came in 1948. Cable followed in 1981.

Mr. Peabody would never know how significant the awards bearing his name would become. Nor did he ever view the primary medium the Peabody Awards now honor. He died in 1938, a year before the first public display of television.